Monday, May 7, 2007

Race Report: Wildflower

I don't know that this can properly be called a "race report," considering that I didn't race. But my team did, and I was there to support them and have a great time. A few interesting points (since outlining the whole weekend chronologically would be lame to write and pointless to read):

  • Best neighbors ever. We were fortunate enough to camp next to a party of age-groupers from Napa Valley who came with a van, a full kitchen, and some very nice wine. I have to say, our pre-race pasta dinner looked pretty plebian compared with their pork cutlet, barbecued shrimp, and baguette. They definitely camped in style. They were also more than generous, sharing their wine, their food, their campfire, and some very excellent conversation with us. After chatting and eating with them, I'm very optimistic about the world of age-grouping (as opposed to the great collegiate atmosphere I've been fortunate enough to experience). Our friends from Napa were definitely an example of how great the tri community can be. (By the way, if any of our Napa friends are reading this, please comment or e-mail and let me know how you did! I'd love to pass on the information to the rest of the team).
  • Topless aid stations. I did not get to see this, but it has pre-determined my course for next season; I will definitely be returning to Lake San Antonio with the USC team to compete next year. I have to get in on that sweet Cal Poly action!
  • Challenging course. The Wildflower course is no walk in the park; it's known as one of the more challenging courses in the world. Most of the USC contingent competed in the Long Course (which is the same distance as a half ironman), and for many of the team members, it was the longest distance they'd attempted. But the Olympic distance (which Anthony did) is also a decidedly difficult course, compounded by the weekend's heat and wind. Long story short, two of our team members ended up in the medical tent with IVs in their arms. This was a little shocking and scary, but at the same time I sort of think it's part of the fun (I'm becoming strangely attracted to pain, I think). Fortunately, we didn't have any technical difficulties on the course; no flat tires or anything.
  • Podium. Congratulations to Susie, who won her age group and was the youngest female competitor in the long course, and to Zach, who placed sixth in his age group (out of about 50).
  • The last hurrah. It wasn't a huge hurrah--we were so tired and loopy after a day of triathlon that our Cinco de Mayo celebration was not nearly as exuberant as we had planned--but it was the last race for me as an undergraduate with the team that's become my family this year. It's hard for me to realize that I'm leaving; I think I've zoned out a little bit so that I don't have to think about it. But it's going to be painful to leave L.A. behind, even though I feel ready to go home to Kansas. I'm going to miss track workouts, spin workouts, driving to races, hanging out on weekends, conversations, questions, guest speakers . . . and those are only the elements of one aspect of my life. It will be a hard couple of weeks. And I could go on, but I think that's a subject for a different blog.
Wildflower was an excellent time. I have to say, it was strange to be surrounded by all the hype, the toned bodies, the excitement of a huge race, and not really be a part of it. In it, experiencing it, but not really a part of it. Because there is a definite line between the racers and the hangers-on (body composition, for one). To be present but not part of the pain and willpower was disorienting and unpleasant; I want to race, not to watch. But I'm glad I went camping with my team, and they were glad to have me. It was an excellent time, and I'm now even more ready to rock this week of training before I graduate super hard.

By the way, I'd love to read everyone else's race reports; I know the blogosphere was well-represented at Lake San Antonio this weekend. Please comment or e-mail and let me know if you've posted about Wildflower!

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